Blog Archives

Japan’s Underwater Aircraft Carrier / part-one

I-400 Series Super-submarine

Lieutenant Commander Stephen L. Johnson had a problem on his hands; a very large problem. His Balao-class submarine, the Segundo, had just picked up a large radar contact on the surface about 100 miles off Honshu, one of Japan’s home islands, heading south toward Tokyo.  World War II in the Pacific had just ended, and the ensuing cease fire was in its 14th day. The official peace documents would not be signed for several more days.

As Johnson closed on the other vessel, he realized it was a gigantic submarine, so large in fact that it first looked like a surface ship in the darkness. The Americans had nothing that size, so he realized that it had to be a Japanese submarine.

This was the first command for the lanky 29-year-old commander. He and his crew faced the largest and perhaps the most advanced submarine in the world. The Japanese I-401 was longer than a football field and had a surface displacement of 5,233 tons, more than three times the Segundo’s displacement. More troubling though was the sub’s bristling weaponry that included a 5.5-inch gun on her aft deck, three triple-barreled 25mm antiaircraft guns, a single 25mm gun mounted on the bridge, and eight large torpedo tubes in her bow.

During a brief ceremony aboard one of the aircraft carrier submarines, the Japanese naval ensign is lowered and replaced by the Stars and Stripes as the vessel is turned over to the control of the U.S. Navy after Japan’s surrender

The large sub displayed the mandatory black surrender flag, but when the Segundo edged forward, the Japanese vessel moved rapidly into the night. The movement and the continuing display of the Rising Sun flag caused concern.  Johnson’s vessel pursued the craft that eventually slowed down as dawn approached. He brought his bow torpedo tubes to bear on the craft as the two vessels settled into a Mexican standoff.

Johnson and his crew had received permission by now to sink the reluctant Japanese vessel if necessary, but he realized he had a career-boosting and perhaps a technologically promising prize in his sights. Much depended on this untried American submarine captain and his wily opponent in the seas off Japan.

Supersub I-400 series

Little did Johnson know that the Japanese submarine was a part of the I-400 squadron, basically underwater aircraft carriers, and that the I-401 carried Commander Tatsunosuke Ariizumi, developer of the top-secret subs initially designed to strike the U.S. homeland in a series of surprise attacks. Ariizumi was considered the “father of the I-400 series” and a loyal follower of the emperor with years of experience in the Japanese Navy, so surrender was a disgrace he could not endure.

Johnson also had to contend with Lt. Cmdr. Nobukiyo Nambu, skipper of the I-401, who traced his combat experience back to Pearl Harbor. He now commanded the world’s largest submarine designed to carry three state-of-the-art attack planes in a specially built hanger located atop the vessel. These secret Aichi M6A1 planes were initially designed for “a second Pearl Harbor” or another surprise attack, possibly even against New York City or Washington, D.C. The I-400 series submarines were themselves full of technological surprises.  They were capable of traveling around the world one and a half times without refueling, had a top surface speed of 19 knots (or nearly 22 miles per hour), and could remain on patrol for four months, twice as long as the Segundo.

Neither Nambu nor Commander Ariizumi readily accepted the emperor’s surrender statement when it was broadcast on August 15. The subsequent communiqués from Tokyo were exceptionally confusing, especially Order 114, which confirmed that peace had been declared – but that all submarines were to “execute predetermined missions and attack the enemy if discovered.”

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

It was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of Japan’s Combined Fleet and developer of the Pearl Harbor attack, who called for the construction of the I-400 series some three weeks after Pearl Harbor.  Once Japan was committed to war, he believed that submarine aircraft carriers dropping bombs “like rain” over major U.S. cities would surely cause the American people to “lose their will to fight.” A second surprise attack with even more to come would prove psychologically devastating to the Americans.

To be continued…

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Military Humor-

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Farewell Salutes – 

William K. Beers – Lewistown, PA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne & 17th Artillery

George E. Bernard (100) – Burlington, VT; US Navy, WWII, ETO, Seaman 2nd Class, LCT Rocket # 373

Charlotte Clark – Laconia, NH; Civilian, WWII, Scott & Williams Aircraft parts

Milton Cronk (100) – Iowa City, IA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Marines Raiders, Purple Heart

Frank Daniels – Watertown, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, gunner, Seaman 1st Class

R. James Giguere – St. Paul, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 “Miss Lace” bull turret gunner

William C. Jones (100) – Fort Smith, AR; US Navy, WWII

Ruth (Lias) Lowery (100) – Akron, OH; Civilian, WWII, B-17 production

Johnnie Mullenix – Unionville, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Richard Shaug – Cambria, CA; US Army, Korea, HQ Co/187th RCT

Twila Wellsfry – Chico, CA; Civilian, WWII, bookkeeper, Mares Island shipyard

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General Yamashita (part one) from: Gen. Eichelberger

Gen. Eichelberger

From:  “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo” by General Robert Eichleberger

Although negotiations with Yamashita for surrender were completed after 8th Army had relinquished control of Luzon, the story should be told here.  It must be remembered that Japanese forces at this period had little or no communication with the homeland.

On 7 August – the day of the fall of the first atomic bomb – an America pilot was forced to abandon his disabled plane and parachute behind the Japanese lines in northern Luzon.  He was picked up by an enemy patrol the next morning and taken after 5 days of forced marches to Gen. Yamashita’s headquarters, then SW of Kiangan.

Gen. Yamashita

There he was subjected to vigorous and prolonged interrogation.  He was threatened with physical violence when he steadfastly refused to answer questions.

On 16 Aug – the attitude of the Japanese interrogators abruptly changed.  The pilot received medical treatment for his parachute-jump injuries and was extended many small courtesies.  The next day the American was guided toward American lines; when the Japanese soldiers had gone as far as they dared, they gave the flier a letter, written by Yamashita himself, which explained the circumstances of the pilot’s capture and commended him for his military spirit and devotion to duty.

On 24 August – the same pilot flew an L-5 liaison plane over the area in which he had been held and dropped a message of thanks to Gen. Yamashita, along with 2 signal panels.  The message, written by Gen. Gill of the 32nd Division, suggested that if Yamashita were in the mood for surrender negotiations he should display the 2 panels as evidence of his willingness to parley.

The following morning another pilot found the panels staked out according to instructions; also on the ground were many cheering, hand-waving Japanese soldiers, who beckoned the plane to land.  Instead, a second message was dropped.  It suggested that Yamashita send an envoy to the American lines to received detailed instructions for his surrender.

Late in the afternoon of 26 August, a Japanese captain, carrying Yamashita’s answer, entered the American lines under a flag of truce.  The letter, which was written in English, was as follows:

Gen. Yamashita

GENERAL HEADQUARTERS, IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY IN THE PHILIPPINES

August 25, 1945

TO: GENERAL W.H. GILL, COMMANDING GENERAL KIANGAN-BOYOMBONG AREA, UNITED STATES ARMY IN THE PHILIPPINES

  1. I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your communication addressed to me, dropped by your airplane on Aug. 24th as well as your papers dropped on Aug. 25th in response to our ground signals.
  2. I am taking this opportunity to convey to you that order from Imperial Headquarters pertaining to cessation of hostilities was duly received by me on Aug. 20th and that I have immediately issued orders to cease hostilities to all units under my command insofar as communications were possible.

I also wish to add this point the expression of my heartfelt gratitude to you, full cognizant of the sincere efforts and deep concern you have continuously shown with reference to cessation of hostilities as evidenced by various steps and measures you have taken in this connection.

To date however, I have failed to receive order from Imperial Headquarters authorizing me to enter into direct negotiations here in the Philippines with the United States Army…, but I am of the fond belief that upon receipt of this order, negotiations can be immediately entered into.  Presenting my compliments and thanking you for your courteous letter, I remain, yours respectively,

/s/Tomoyuki Yamashita, General, Imperial Japanese Army, Highest Commander of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines

circa 1956: The samurai sword of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, ‘the Tiger of Malaya’, commander of the Japanese troops in the Philippines during World War II. It rests on the Philippine Surrender Document, signed at Baguio, Luzon on September 3rd, 1945. (Photo by Orlando /Three Lions/Getty Images)

This message was the first in a series exchanged between Yamashita and Gen. Gill.  The exquisite courtesy of the exchanges probably has for the average reader something of the quality of ‘Through the Looking-Glass’.

To be continued…….

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Military Humor – 

Private Wilbur

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Bever (101) – Lagro, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, TSgt., 95th Infantry Division, Purple Heart

Walter G. Bonrer – Oconomowoc, WI; US Army, Korea, Co. F/187th RCT

A Tribute to them ALL

Lucille (Whitehead) Clark – USA; US Navy WAVES, WWII

Jesse “Jay” Durham Jr. – Fort Payne, AL; US Navy, WWII, USS Cleveland

Raymond Femc – Forest City, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. E/187/11th Airborne Division

Jay Karpin Hicksville, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 & B-24 navigator

Robert J. Lovelace – No. Roanoke, VA; US Army, WWII, Sgt. Major (Ret. 34 y.)

Dominic Rossetto – Red Lodge, MT; US Army, 101st Airborne Division

Wilbur “Curly” Siebold – Huntington, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 gunner, POW

John B. Thomas – Wayne County, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt. # 0-659415, 34 BS/98 BG/ 9th Air Force, KIA (Ploiest, ROM)

Keith W. Tipsword – Moccasin, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Machinist Mate 1st Cl. # 3369382, USS West Virginia, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

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The Emperor’s Speech

Emperor Hirohito taping his speech

 

“To our good and loyal citizens,

After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our Empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union that our Empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well- being of our subjects is the solemn obligation that has been handed down by our Imperial Ancestors, and we lay it close to the heart.

Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to ensure Japan’s self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

The Emperor’s bunker

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone– the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of our servants of the state and the devoted service of our 100 million people–the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, or to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers.

We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, and those who met with death and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day.

The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood is the object of our profound solicitude. The hardships and suffering to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great.

We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all you, our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable. Having been able to save and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, we are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

The Emperor’s speech

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that may engender needless complications, and of any fraternal contention and strife that may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishable of its divine land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.

All you, our subjects, we command you to act in accordance with our wishes.”

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Military Humor – 

On Guam, this airman wasted no time in creating this enterprise.

One of Murphy’s Laws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

flag image curtesy of Dan Antion

Leo J. Barlosky – Carbon County, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Cpl. # 6897692, 7th Chemical Co., KWC (Luzon, P.I.)

Julius C. Brooks – SC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt. # 5751632, I Co./39/9th Infantry Division, radioman, KIA (Troina, ITA)

William F. Corbett – Selma, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt., B-29 gunner

Victor Hernandez – Fresno, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 129th Infantry Regiment

Leonard Leniewski – Milwaukee, WI;US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

Irene (Crimmins) Marsh – Yonkers, NY; US Army WAC, WWII, LT. / US Air Force, Korea

James McManaway – Roanoke, VA; USMC, Vietnam, Colonel (Ret. 30 y.)

Sue Pflepsen (100) – Amsterdam, NY; US Navy WAVE, WWII, PTO, Ensign, nurse

Cecil G. Richardson – San Angelo, TX; US Navy, WWII  /  US Air Force, Korea

Frederick R. Schrader – CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO/CBI, Lt. Comdr. # 0074896,Hellcat pilot, Carrier Group 11 on the USS Hornet, Distinguished Flying Cross, KIA (Formosa)

James R. Tash – MO; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt. # 17016200, F Co/2/31st Infantry Reg., Bronze Star, POW, KWC (Cabanatuan Camp, Luzon)

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Okinawa’s Typhoon + The Emperor’s plans

Okinawa typhoon damage

14 August, the Emperor made a recording to be played over the Japanese radio stating that their government had surrendered to the Allied powers and to request that his people cooperate with the conquerors. The fanatics, mainly Army officers and also known as die-hards or ultras, attempted to confiscate the prepared discs and claim that the Emperor had been coerced into accepting the Potsdam Declaration. People died in this mini revolution and others committed hara-kiri when it failed. Some enemy pilots continue to fly their Zeros as American planes went over Japan.

typhoon damage

“To our good and loyal citizens,

After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our Empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union that our Empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration…”    (The complete speech will appear next week)

 

15 August, Washington D.C. received Japan’s acceptance of the terms of surrender. Similar to the Western Electric advertisement pictured, phones and telegraphs buzzed around the world with the news that WWII was over, but reactions varied. Among the men on Okinawa, there was jubilation mixed in with ‘let’s wait and see.”

In Japan, most felt relieved, but others committed suicide to fulfill their duty. Russian troops continued to push into Manchuria to get as far into the area as possible before the Allies could stop them. Troops in Europe were elated to hear that they were no longer being transferred to the Pacific. South America began to see the arrival of Nazi escapees and the United States went wild with gratitude.

Okinawa, typhoon damage

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Military Humor – 

Tee Time

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Marilyn Benson – Orion, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Garland W. Collier – Coleman, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, HQ Co./3/506/101st Airborne Division, Sgt. # 39849456, KIA (Opheusden, NETH)

Francis Duval – Amherst, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Michael Fusco – Syracuse, NY; US Army, WWII, Iceland

Elmore Herold (100) – Cresco, IA; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Norbert J. Logan (101) – Delta, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Cornelia O. Moore – Conyers, GA; US Army, Korea, HQ Co./ 187th RCT

Joseph J. Puopolo – E. Boston, MA; US Army, Korea, Cpl. # 11193248, Field Wireman, C Batt/38/2nd Infantry Division, POW, KWC (Camp # 5)

Clarence Smoyer – Allentown, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, gunner, 3rd Armored Division

Adelaido M. Solis – Inez, TX; US Army, Korea, Pfc # 18355862, B Co./1/9/2nd Infantry Division, POW, KWC (Camp # 5)

Charles W. Woodruff – Mocksville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQ Co./188th/11th Airborne Division

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Current News –

Today is Canada’s Thanksgiving Day, I send my very best to our Canadian neighbors!!

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U.S. Navy’s Birthday – Thursday,  13 October 2022

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The Bomb and the 509th

Pres. Truman

In a 1958 interview, Truman was asked about the soul-searching decision he went through to decide on dropping the bomb. He replied, “Hell no, I made it like _ (snapped his fingers) _ that!” One year later at Columbia University, he said, “The atom bomb was no great decision.” He likened it to a larger gun.

The components for the 20-kiloton weapon were being shipped to Tinian Island, in the Marianas, aboard the USS Indianapolis.   The top-secret package arrived at its destination a mere 24 hours after the official operational order for the bomb was sent to General Carl (“Tooey”) Spaatz.

Prince Konoye

Prince Konoye, after laboring two years for a route to peace, swallowed poison and died the day before he was to turn himself in as a war criminal.

Sadly, four days later, the Indianapolis was hit by three torpedoes and sunk within twelve minutes. The ship was without a sufficient number of lifeboats, her disappearance went unnoticed for almost four days and the navy search team was called off early. Therefore, only 316 men of her 1,196-man crew were rescued. This has been considered the most controversial sea disaster in American history.

USS Indianapolis

The bomb, when it arrived, was a metal cylinder approximately 18 inches in diameter and two feet high, but when fully assembled, it measured ten feet long and 28 inches in diameter. It had originally been nicknamed “Thin Man” after the movie and the expected shape, but when it was completed, they changed it to “Little Boy” and gave the small bundle its own hiding place. The secrecy involving the bomb storage area was so secure that a general was required to have a pass to enter.

The other members of the 509th Bomber Group, not included in the mission, knew something was brewing, but they also were unaware of the exact plans. Hence, an anonymous writer was inspired:
Into the air the secret rose,
Where they’re going, nobody knows.
Tomorrow they’ll return again,
But we’ll never know where they’ve been.
Don’t ask about results or such,
Unless you want to get in Dutch.
But take it from one who is sure of the score,
The 509th is winning the war.

The crew of the ‘Enola Gay’ even received a humorous menu as they entered the mess hall for breakfast:
Look! Real eggs (How do you want them?)
Rolled oats (Why?)
Milk (No fishing)
Sausage (We think it’s pork)
Apple butter (Looks like axle grease)
Butter (Yep, it’s out again)
Coffee (Saniflush)
Bread (Someone get a toaster)

After takeoff, they met up with their two escort planes, ‘The Great Artiste,’ which carried scientific equipment and Number 91 (never named) carrying photographic gear.

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Military Humor – 

“Whoever is humming the ‘Jaws’ theme is gonna get slapped!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edwin Askins – Calhoun, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO, 240th Medical Battalion

Norman Baylis – Rotorua, NZ; NZ Expeditionary Force # 455856, WWII

Final Mission

Bobby L. Dew – Norfolk, VA; US Army, 101st Airborne  /  Korea, 7th Division, Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts

Alfred Fergen – Parkston, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Sea Bees, 109th Construction Battalion

Frank Gaughan (101) – Cleveland, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

Robert Haney – Columbia City, IN; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

William G. James – Boynton Beach, FL; US Army, 508th RCT

Edward Kirwan Jr. – Newburgh, NY, USMC, WWII, PTO

Dennis C. Lansing – Richland, WA; US Army, Vietnam, Green Beret, Major (Ret. 22 y.)

George McLean – New Orleans, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, GSgt., 93 BG/8th Air Force

Brian Reichert – Andover, ND; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division, Sgt. (Ret.)

Bruce Sauder – Highspire, PA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

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I’m no quitter!

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Potsdam Conference conclusion

Potsdam Conference, July-August 1945. President Harry S. Truman introducing his driver, Private First Class Warren E. Baker to Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, both from the same home town. President Truman had been inspecting the 3Rd Armored Division near Frankfurt, Germany. Photographed by CPhoM William Belknap Jr., released July 26, 1945. Official U.S. Navy Photograph,

26 July, the same day that Clement Attlee defeated Winston Churchill in the election for Prime Minister, the Potsdam Declaration was sent to the enemy. The exact wording of this document made it unthinkable for Japan to accept. Once again, the lack of understanding for a foreign culture would hinder the road to peace.

Keep in mind, while still at sea on the ‘Augusta,’ Byrnes had received a message from Sweden stating that Japanese Major Gen. Makoto Onodera, having authorization from the Emperor, wished to enter into peace negotiations. The only stipulation being that the Emperor remain in power.

By this time, Prince Konoye had spent two years laboring to uncover a route to peace. The prince had had the correct procedure all along, but mistakenly had chosen the Soviet Union as the go-between. Stalin had his own agenda in mind for the Japanese and their territories and therefore he deceitfully strung the envoys along with various delaying tactics. OSS Allen Dulles, who assisted in negotiations when Italy fell, was working on the same premise in Switzerland.

Nevertheless, as spring turned to summer, militarists in Japan continued to plan for Operation Decision (Ketsu-Go) and ignored their government’s attempts for peace. Disregarding Japan’s concern for their Emperor, the Potsdam Declaration was considered by Premier Suzuki and the military to be a re-hashing of the Cairo Declaration which deemed it to be marked as “mokusatsu” (‘ignore entirely’ or ‘regard as unworthy of notice’)

In regards to the A-bomb, Secretary of War, Stimson and his assistant, John McCloy, told Truman, “We should all have our heads examined if we don’t try to find a political solution.” Truman laughed.

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So many maneuvers, conversations and secrets go on behind the main headlines, but here is one story I hope you take the time to click and read. This obituary was in “The Week” news-magazine and I could not resist including it here. Could any of us do this job today?

Bomb babysitter

Resources: U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian; “The Week” magazine; “The Last Great Victory” by Stanley Weintraub; University of Virginia, Miller Center.

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Note of interest – 17 July 1945, kamikaze units were no longer voluntary.

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United States Air Force celebrates 75 years !!!  18 September 1947

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Military Humor (actually political, haha) – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Geraldine (Ingold) Able – Mogadore, OH; Civilian, WWII, Akron Tire life belts

Duane E. Acker – Rittman, OH; US Army, 3rd Armored/11th Airborne Division

Code Talker’s monument

Robert P. Bixby (101) – Apache Junction, AZ; US Army, WWII

Ben Carpenter – Waco, NC; US Navy, WWII

James B. Gallinatti – Lakewood, WA; US Army, Lt., 11th Airborne Division

David E. Grange Jr. – Lake Ronkonkoma, NY; US Army Air Corps; WWII, ETO, 517/82nd A/B Div. / Korea, US Army, 2nd Lt. 187th RCT / Vietnam, 506th Infantry Reg & 101st A/B Division, Lt. General (Ret. 41 Years)

Fred Hedges – Atlanta, GA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 20th Armored Division

Eli Johnson – Jetts Creek, KY; USMC, WWII

Paul J. Manning – Rochester, VT; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

George Nashen (100) – brn: Kishinev, ROM; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

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Potsdam Conference, part one

Potsdam Conference table

“Operation Iceberg,” the invasion of Okinawa began on 1 April 1945 and would basically end on 22 June. Many are unaware that small skirmishes continued even after the 11th Airborne Division landed on that island. But … as we enter into July, others matters begin to develop.

Harry S. Truman did not have the outstanding record that most people look for in a president. He had poor eyesight and was unable to complete a 4-year college. Later, he failed as the owner/operator of a small mining and oil business, as a farmer and then as a haberdasher. (In my opinion, that only left politics as an option.) HST was elected to the Senate with the assistance of the corrupt Thomas J. Pendergast and proved to be an unimportant legislator. His only military achievement was in successfully tightening up the discipline of the rag-tag outfit he was given. He was chosen as the Vice-Presidential candidate because southern democrats liked him and FDR needed those votes. (I’m afraid these facts were located during research, they are not my own thoughts – unless specified.)

Potsdam page

This was the man sent to Germany, sailing on the “Augusta” with Secretary of State, James Byrnes and Admiral Leahy to attend the Potsdam Conference to begin on 17 July 1945. The primary agenda for the massive meeting dealt with the revision of the German-Soviet-Polish borders and the expulsion of several million Germans from the disputed territories. The code name for this conference was “Terminal,” with Stalin, Churchill and Truman representing the three major powers.

16 July was significant in that the Atomic bomb was successfully tested, exploding the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT and a blast point of 750 degrees F. Oppenheimer would then prepare the test results for his report to Henry Stimson in Potsdam. Truman confided the news to Churchill and the two rulers instantly decided that at least two bobs would be dropped on Japan. This decision was made despite the arguments of Adm. Leahy, General “Hap” Arnold and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower who strongly spoke against it’s use, calling it completely unnecessary. Many of the scientists that worked on the Manhattan Project felt that such a dramatic scientific discovery should not be used. The petition, “…the liberated forces of nature for the purpose of destruction … open the door to an era of devastation …,” was signed by 57 scientists. They had the foresight to visualize the nuclear problems that we face today, but their qualms went unheeded.

Potsdam, continued

The Potsdam Proclamation demanded the unconditional surrender of Japan, but did not make mention of two clearly important issues – (1) that the atomic bomb was is existence and (2) whether or not the Emperor would retain his seat in the palace. Both of these provisions would have clarified the true situation for the Japanese Army. Many, on-site at Potsdam, believe that the Japanese were purposely and maliciously misguided.

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Military Humor – WWI Style – 

“A BOLT FROM THE BLUE – WITH LOVE FROM YOURS TRULY”

“SAY WHEN !”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Aubry – Saratoga Springs, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, radar repair

Thomas Austin Sr. – Greenville, SC; US Army, WWII, ETO, 12th Armored Division

Ellery Engell – Erie, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Sea Bees

William W. Fitz – Dedham, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

David A. Gockowski Sr. – Bellevue, NE; US Air Force, CMSgt. (Ret.), WWII, Korea, Vietnam

Hilda (Morrison) Harned – Hodgenville, KY; US Navy, WWII, nurse

Gordon Kemp – Peterborough, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO radar repair

William Nichols – Lima, OH; US Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO

Robert H. Reilly – NYC, NY; USMC, WWII & Korea, 1st Lt.

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (Windsor) – Mayfair, London; Auxiliary Territorial Service, WWII  / 70 year British Monarch

Thaddeus Zawilinski – Amsterdam, NY; US Army, West Point Academy

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Operation Downfall, part two

Operation Downfall/Olympic

In a memo from the Undersecretary of the Navy, a project named “Dagwood” was mentioned, but I am unable to locate any details. MacArthur sent out a deceptive message (with slip-shot secrecy) to be intercepted by the Japanese called “Pastel Two.” This showed a detailed “plan” about Allied landings on the China coast. The Panama Canal had a steady stream of ships loaded with men, equipment and supplies. Seven more atomic bombs were on order for “Operation Olympic” British, Canadian and Australian divisions were to be re-equipped with American weapons and logistical support to standardize the entire operation. The Allied planners felt they would ultimately involve 5 million men. (Operation Overlord in Europe totaled 150,000 men and 1,500 tanks.) They expected opposition from 5,000 kamikazes, which proved later to be correct. The main objective for “Olympic” would be to secure Kagoshima Wan; a great landlocked bay for which men and supplies would flow through for the post-invasion buildup.

Operation Coronet would follow Olympic on 1 March 1946 and would be a more massive invasion. The main objective then would be Tokyo Bay on Honshu.

The Naval plans were also far too complex for me to completely list here, but to give you an idea – Halsey’s Third Fleet was assigned eastern Honshu and the Fifth Fleet would take western Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku. The Seventh Fleet would be at Korea (south of the 38th parallel) and Admiral Fletcher’s North Pacific Force would cover Hokkaido.

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Saipan

After the fall of Saipan, Japan knew they were forced to strengthen their homeland defenses. Yet this progress was moving slowly; labor was scarce, with the lack of fuel their mobilization was slow, production, food and weapons were decreasing rapidly. The country was becoming very tired of war. Covering the Japanese islands were four ground armies of eight divisions and 14 cadre divisions; plus three air defense divisions. Immense manpower groups were expected to bring this to 56 divisions, 38 brigades, somewhere in the vicinity of 2 million new men. War materiel was to be brought in from Manchuria. The Japanese plan of defense was called “Ketsu-Go.”

Japanese defenses

I realize the map is difficult to view even after you click on it, but try to see the black squares which represent Japanese defenses with artillery.

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The 11th Airborne, training the reinforcements and handling the “mopping-up” details on Luzon were beginning to set odds on whether or not the war would end before “Olympic” went into play. The combined “Operation Downfall” was a “go” up until the ink on the surrender papers dried.
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From Paul Putnam for his father Robert, a veteran of the 11th Airborne Division.

Robert Putnam

Robert Putnam

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Military Humor –  WW I  Style – 

“I’m HAVING A WONDERFUL TIME.”🙄

Not much different than WWII, eh?

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Farewell Salutes – 

Warren “Bill” Allen – Spofford, NH; USMC, WWII, air traffic comptroller

Margaret “Marty” Bartholomew (102) – Toledo, OH; US Army WAC, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt.

Courtesy of: Dan Antion

H. John Davis Jr. (103) – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt.

Kenneth Ellsworth – Elkhorn, WI; US Merchant Marines, WWII

Nathan Isaacs – Winnipeg, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, navigator

Betty (Hale) Johnson – Wichita, KS; Civilian, WWII, Beech Aircraft

Victor Kester (102) – Revere, MA; US Navy, WWII

Richard J. Lewis – Burlington, MD; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Walter Minick – Elmhurst, IL; USMC, WWII

Hiroshi “Johnny” Okura (100) – HI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bat A/522/442nd Division

Robert Weaver Sr. – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

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Happy Labor Day!

Operation Downfall – part one

Plans for Japan – click to enlarge

The original idea for the invasion of Japan was approved in July 1944 and received constant, precise detailing up until the actual signing of the surrender. Operation Downfall was broken into two separate plans, Operation Olympic which would be followed by Operation Coronet.

With all the devastation already incurred on Japan, a forceful occupation would still be very costly. The Japanese Army controlled the government and their wish was a fight down to the last man, woman and child. Later on, members of that army stated that it would have been an all out suicide effort of every person in Japan to fight to the death.

Women pose for propaganda poster as “beachfront kamikazes”

Operation Olympic, which included 750,000 troops were to land on Southern Kyushi 1 November 1945. In the first wave, Army, Navy and Marine personnel – 436,486; the second wave to hold 356,902. (How they managed to be so specific is way over my head.) The air support would total 22,160. The D-Day Operation Overlord would have paled in comparison and this led the Joint Chiefs of Staff to agree that this rendered Russia’s involvement unnecessary.

MacArthur’s estimations of casualties and wounded that he sent to Washington were judged by the invasion of Luzon. Gen. “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell sent his report based on the Okinawa battles; these were much higher.

While Europe’s “Overlord” had beach codes such as: Omaha, Utah, Sword and Gold, “Olympic” had a variety of automobiles for the beaches that were then grouped by type. Gen. Krueger’s Sixth Army, that included the 11th Airborne Division, was scheduled to land at Miyazaki, the eastern prefecture of Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan. The forty-mile long shallow beach areas were coded as ‘Chevrolet’, ‘Chrysler’ and ‘Cord.’ (Highlighted sections on map above.) At the time, there were approximately 126,000 Japanese troops in that zone. Even after both atomic bombs were dropped, the Sixth Army was expected to have 15,000 casualties.

MacArthur had wanted to keep Gen. Eichelberger close to him and direct the operations since his record with the 11th A/B on Luzon was so efficient. As had been mentioned previously, the five-star general felt that Gen. Krueger had led a rather undistinguished campaign thus far.

Jeep stockpile

The itemized tons of materiel listed in the plans grew beyond comprehension. P-51 Mustang fighters were shipped to Guam still in their crates. Stocking grew on Tinian, Saipan, Samar, Luzon, Hawaii, the Marianas, the Carolines and the west coast of the U.S. (just to name a few). The logistics could only be explained by experts.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lawrence D, Adkisson – Wichita, KS; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Maude Bourassa – Durand, IL; Civilian, WWII, Chevrolet Tank Plant

John Collier (102) – Newberry, SC; USMC, WWII, PTO, Sgt, Major, POW / Korea (Chosin Few)

Richard Friday – Washington DC; US Army, WWII, ETO,Co. H/398/100th Division, Silver Star, Purple Heart

Robert Harrell – Morristown, TN; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

Louis Iauco (101) – Syracuse, NY; US Army, WWII

John Karakiozis – Clarksburg, WV; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

John Caldwell McLean – Port Elgin, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, gunner, Halifax bomber “Willie the Wolf”, Swordfish Sq. 415

John Pluhacek – Omaha, NE; US Army, WWII

Eunice Salmon (102) – Clinton, MA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, nurse

Jane Winstone – Whanganui, NZ; British ATA, WWII, pilot, KIA (1944)

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Making a Jump on Aparri, Luzon

Jump on Aparri

As the ground races up to meet the troopers, they see the tall, thick fields of the sharp kunai grass, flooded rice paddies, carabao ruts and bomb craters – all would prove dangerous. The Task Force would lose 7%, two men killed and 70 wounded as they landed in 25 mph winds. The battle-hardened paratroopers collected their flame throwers, howitzers and rifles from the gliders and reassembled with “Espirit de Corps.”

Aparri jump

The 11th Airborne battled the Shabu Forces on a 75 mile hike in 120 degree heat to connect up with the Connolly Task Force. The combined goal was to prevent the enemy from escaping into the Cagayan Valley and out to sea. Lt. Col. Burgess met Gen. Beightler, on 26 June, and received a rather snide remark about how his men had saved the 11th A/B. Burgess became quite red-faced and replied that he was under orders to save the 37th Division. Gen. Swift, standing off to one side, laughed and said, “Well, you SOUND like one of Swing’s boys.” (referring to General Joe Swing).

11th A/B Div. drops in Aparri, Luzon, P.I.

The Gypsy Task Force marched away to the 37th’s Headquarters to request C-47s to transport the unit back to Lipa. Burgess was denied and told to countermarch to Aparri and have the trucks take them south to Manila. That would mean they would still need to march another 55 miles from Manila to Lipa. Instead, the men bribed the C-47 pilots with Japanese swords, guns and various other paraphernalia in exchange for a flight back. (Necessity is the mother of invention.)

Bold headlines exploded in the Australian newspapers: U.S. Paratroopers Land In Northern Luzon – “After the 11th A/B Division made their air-borne landing near Aparri on June 23rd., using their gliders for the first time, carrying howitzers, jeeps and mobile equipment. Each trooper jumped with 100 pounds of gear strapped to his body.”
In the 26 June 1945 issue of The Army News – “On Saturday, from 600 feet into paddy fields, the 11th Airborne dropped near the port of Aparri in a surprise move against the Japanese forces in northern Luzon. They used their gliders for the first time in the southwest Pacific…”

Aparri, North Luzon

Gen. Joseph M. Swing

3 July, General Swing made an official note stating that he had implored the higher echelon of the Sixth Army two months previous with a plan to drop the entire 11th Airborne Division onto northern Luzon back when Gen. Krueger’s men were having so much trouble with the Japanese in Balete Pass. He expressed his frustration that his own plan to attack Aparri had gone unheeded. The Japanese had been given the opportunity to withdraw just enough to unite with reinforcements.

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Military Humor – 

CAPTION THIS? WHAT COLD THE ARMY POSSIBLY BEEN UP TO?

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Farewell Salutes –

Harold Allen – Waverly, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ardeen Bauch – Quincy, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman 1st Class

Aleutians, 1943

Andrew Coy – Pure Air, MO; US Army, Vietnam, 5th Special Forces, Mike Force Unit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, (Ret. 25 y.)

Conrad ‘Billy’ Edwards Jr. – Bladenboro, NC; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division

Rodean Elmstrand – Hetland, SD; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

John W. Kohout – Ft. Myers, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Simplicio Magno – LaTorre, PI; USMC, Vietnam, Purple Heart

David McCullough – Pittsburgh, PA; Civilian, Pulitzer Award Historian

William Porteous – Plymouth, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/511/11th Airborne Division

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